Matt Harvey is gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated as “The Dark Knight of Gotham.” The superhero the Mets need, but New York doesn’t want.
Not because New York doesn’t like the Mets or anything, but given how great the New York Knicks have been this season, it is absolutely frustrating that all the right moves they made (trading for Carmelo Anthony, trading for Tyson Chandler, letting Jeremy Lin go, re-signing Raymond Felton, signing JR Smith and Jason Kidd, keeping Iman Shumpert, and keeping Mike Woodson as their head coach) will amount to nothing if they stop playing hero-ball.
For those of you unaware how this works, it’s fairly simple. Anthony or Smith run the offense, shoot the ball more than their entire team individually and when hot, are a force to reckoned with. When cold, the Knicks look like a team of lost and confused.
It is this mentality of give and give to Anthony and Smith that has taken the Knicks to the playoffs, but can very well take the Knicks out of the playoffs if they don’t quit it.
After being outperformed by the Indiana Pacers in Game 3, Tyson Chandler took the time to air out his grievances on the Knicks’ offensive system saying “I watched the tape myself and there are open looks. We have to be willing passers. You have to sacrifice yourself sometimes for the betterment of the team and for the betterment of your teammates. So when you drive in the paint and you draw, you kick it. I think we need to do a better job of allowing the game to dictate who takes the shots and not the individuals.”
When you watch the Knicks play, you see what Chandler is describing. Many open looks and many contested shots. Anthony is ranked #3 in field goals attempted behind other hero-ball mentalists, Russell Westbrook and Kobe Bryant. As you have seen with Westbrook’s and Bryant’s teams, when players of hero-ball mentality don’t bring their game or falter, the team is left in shambles. Sure, the Thunder have Kevin Durant, but one man doesn’t win championships. It takes a team.
And now, as a result, the New York Knicks are facing elimination down 3-1 in their series against the Pacers.
The Knicks need to realize it is going to take a team effort to defeat the Pacers and even stand a formidable chance against the Miami Heat. Hero-ball is not working and it has never worked. Ask the 2006-07 Cleveland Cavaliers, 2011-12 New York Knicks, 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers. It doesn’t work.
Remembered the Knicks team that ran circles around the Miami Heat in their very first game of the season and were leading the Eastern conference once upon a time?
That Knicks team was a team. It wasn’t the Carmelo Anthony show. Chandler was a rebounding and blocking phenom. Smith, Kidd, and Anthony were lights out beyond the arc. Felton ran the offense well and simply put, the Knicks put the Heat on notice.
But somewhere down the road, the Knicks became complacent and are now relying heavily on Anthony and Smith to carry them to the playoffs. As you saw in Game 4, the same mentality that the Knicks have had all season cost them. Smith and Anthony combined shot 45 times, more shots than the rest of the Knicks team combined.
It may be too little too late for the Knicks, but New York deserves to see the Knicks team go down swinging, not Anthony and Smith go down swinging.
This hero mentality doesn’t work in real life and it most certainly doesn’t work in professional sports. It may have very well cost the Knicks this season and will very well lead to a lot of disgruntled fans leaving Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, disappointed, and with the mantra that reigns supreme in everywhere but Yankee Stadium.
Wait ’till Next Year.